As a college student, the importance of writing an exceptional resume is heavily stressed. You want to be prepared when you start applying for jobs! Whether it's your first job, a temporary job, or a position that will result in the start of your career, a kick-ass resume will make all the difference.
A résumé is simply a snapshot of your education, experiences, and skills. In other words, you as an individual, are advertising yourself. You want to portray that you are more than qualified for a position. It is important to remember that even if you are not exactly qualified, you may still portray yourself as someone who is responsible, hard-working, and communicable. More often than not, your résumé will be the employer's first impression of you, therefore you need to make it a positive and lasting one.
1. Include an objective statement at the beginning.
This should be one sentence of what type of position you are looking for. In this section, you can add in phrases that describe your experiences. Remember to be clear and concise.
For example: To obtain [a position] in which my [education, expertise, and social and personal skills] may be utilized in a positive and efficient disposition.
In the statement above, you would insert what is specific to you and your own skills and job search!
2. Include your address at the top.
It's important for you to include your address on your résumé. I usually add mine right under my name. It lets employers see how far away you are from the place of employment. Some might overlook it, others don't. The tricky thing is when you have a permanent address and a local address. You could add both to your résumé or explain if you've been given the go-ahead for an interview.
3. Including your contact information is pertinent.
I would say that your contact information is much more important than your address. Employers might not really care if you don't list your address but they definitely will care if you don't include your contact information. Your contact information typically includes your phone number (either cell, home, or both) as well as your email! The email should be a professional one, it shouldn't be some ridiculous username that you made up in the 4th grade. This allows employers to contact you if they want you for an interview.
4. ALWAYS include a section for your education and (work) experience.
The tricky thing about résumés is that they are individually tailored. In terms of the sections on the résumé, you have a handful to choose from. You could include skills, awards, volunteer experiences, leadership experiences, or research. You have to choose what is most important to you and what will most accurately portray you as an individual. The two absolute sections you should always include is your education and your work experience!
5. Under your education section...
It is important to understand that in many cases, the university you attended is not what is most important. Focus on your degree (otherwise your area of concentration). It doesn't matter if you went to Florida State University or the University of Tampa, employers (post-graduation) will be focusing on your area of study. They want to know what you focused on and how that can be applied in the future.
It is also very important to include your expected graduation or the year you graduated. This allows employers to put it all into perspective.
6. Under the (work) experience section...
Include the names of all employment places, your start and end date, and a small description of your duties and skills. It is not as important to express your duties more so than it is to emphasize your accomplishments and promotions.
7. Word play is essential.
Incorrect example (for a server): I took orders, served food, cleaned tables, and closed checks.
Correct example: Assisted customers in order selection, recommended specific menu items, and ensured prompt, accurate service.
Don't forget that your résumé is the first impression employers will have of you! Use this to your advantage and hype yourself up in all the appropriate ways!
8. (Reverse) Chronological order is key.
I cannot stress this enough! Under any section, whether it's your education, experiences, or awards, utilize chronological order. Employers want to see your most recent experiences and honors first, not last! Your experience section should start with your most recent job and end with your oldest job.
9. Dates, dates, DATES!
Dates allow employers to put everything into perspective. Every section should be date and in chronological order.
"Oh, your last job was three years ago?"
"Oh, you received three promotions within the span of a year?"
Trust me, if you don't include dates, I guarantee you that you will be asked when you did what and for how long.
10. Focus on a simple format.
Résumés should be very easy to glance over. It should provide a quick, simple, and easy snapshot of your qualifications. Don't utilize a variety of colors or different fonts all over. Stick with one font, one size (except for headings), and maybe one or two colors.
11. Preferably 11-point font!
Most places, more likely than not, will prefer that you use 11-point font. Feel free to use 12-point font, but remember that you want to depict as much information you can within a limited amount of space. The rule of thumb is typically 10 -12 point font. Most places would prefer a lot of information with little white space rather than a larger font and a longer résumé.
12. Times New Roman is the way to go.
Every high school and college kid already knows ... Times New Roman is where it's at. It is clean, crispy, and easy to read. It's not too fancy or too "extra," it's the perfect font. I'm not saying that nothing but Times New Roman can be used but... why mess with a classic?
If you decided you don't want to use it, pick any other font that is conservative and simple.
13. Two pages, at most.
Once again, résumés are to provide a quick snapshot. Employers don't want to read every thing you've ever done. They want you to choose what you think is the most important. You need to keep it concise, simple, and brief. Most employers will prefer a résumé that is only one page. However, most are open to two pages. Do not, whatsoever, write more than two pages. Keep in mind that a cover letter can be utilized to help add more information that couldn't be squeezed into your resume.
14. Align all content!
You shouldn't have things added in all over your résumé. It needs to have a semblance of order and balance. Keep it all justified throughout your paper. All titles/sections should follow one alignment while all the information within each section follows another. Align your content but also use the alignment to create clear sections.
15. Bold and italicize.
This can really help make the important information on your résumé stick out. Better yet, it can also help you create clear sections. I tend to bold all the subtitles/sections: education, experience, skills, etc. I italicize pertinent information underneath each section. For example, under my bolded experience section, I will list the job I held in my regular Times New Roman font, then italicize the position I held. It helps the reader's eye immensely.
16. Add pops of color to make your résumé stand out.
When I say pops of color, I don't mean rainbow font or bright pink letters! Remember, the key is to keep it simple! You can get around having a boring black and white résumé by adding a thin border to your paper! As I attend FSU, I make my border a deep maroon color! This is easy to do, looks very clean, and makes your résumé stand out!
17. Tailor your résumé to every job.
Every job is different. Every job will require different abilities and skills. Every job will look for different things. What you might want to include on your résumé for one job might not be what you want for another. You have to basically pick and choose what is appropriate! Keep that in mind and always go over your résumé before turning it into any employer.
18. Proofread, proofread, proofread!
Proofread! I don't know how many times I have to say it for you to get it but... proofread! Understand that this résumé is going to be what your employer first associates with you. Do not give them some poorly written piece of paper that is hard to read. They will automatically discard you from the pile of applicants. Reread your résumé upon making it. Look it over before submitting it. If need be, have a roommate, parent, or teacher look it over for you! Who knows, they might have some advice on how to make it more exceptional.
19. If nothing else... use Grammarly.
PROOFREAD. But once again, if you are the type of person who hates going back over things, use Grammarly. It's free. You can upload the document or download it onto your computer and it will highlight errors as you go. I cannot stress this enough... proofread.
20. Word/Websites have pre-formatted résumé templates for you.
If you are too lazy to take the time to sit down and create your own résumé that is tailored to you, don't sweat it. Many people do. In some cases, people don't know where to start. If you are one of these people, don't fret! Just search up résumé templates on Word or online and a gazillion will pop up! Just insert your information as you go! I tend to stay away from templates because it's hard to add in certain things or change something I don't like. I stick to making my own.
21. Do not lie on your paper.
I get that writing a résumé is stressful. You might assume that employers might not fact check every single piece of information on your résumé but it doesn't hurt to be careful. It is important that you realize that it might come back to haunt you. Your employer could ask you all about it and then you'd be screwed.
These are all of the tips and tricks I utilize when writing my professional résumé! I hope this helps you prepare for your next big interview, best of luck!